ESL eSports gives Xbox One some gaming tournament cred with new app

esl xbox One
Credit: ESL

In October, an estimated 10 million people watched teams take each other on in a PC game called Defense of the Ancients 2. Its host, the Electronic Sports League (ESL) hopes that it can attract a similar audience of console players with a new Xbox One app.

On Tuesday, ESL launched the app, which can be downloaded via the Xbox One console. So far, it appears the app prioritizes matchmaking, allowing users to sign up for upcoming “cups,” or competitions, for Xbox One games like FIFA 15. Users can also find fellow gamers via their gamertags and read the latest esports news.

To date, eSports has focused mainly on PC games, probably because of the flexibility the PC offers—including modified games that became hits in their own right, such as DOTA2 and League of Legends. In July, ESPN agreed to stream The International, one of the premier eSports events, with prizes totaling $10 million. An estimated 20 million people viewed the International via Twitch.tv, the streaming service recently bought by Amazon for $970 million. About half that watched ESL’s event, according to TechRadar’s live count of Twitch streams. 

esl xbox one ESL

Matchmaking appears to be an early focus.

Players can play solo in “Open” matches to gain experience and then “Major” competitions to earn prizes, before cracking the “Pro” tier. ESL said its developer team planned to add full team functionality in the future. 

It’s unclear whether the results of a match will be reported back to ESL automatically, or whether gamers will have to manually enter results, offering up the opportunity to falsify a report. In addition, there doesn’t seem to be any way to watch matches via the app—although the separate Twitch.tv app for the Xbox One console solves that problem.

esl xbox One ESL

Why this matters: Consoles like the One or the PlayStation 4 don’t exactly lack for competition—just consider the number of tournaments available for console players to play the latest Madden NFL football game. Still, if ESL can make the Xbox One the eSports gaming console—over the PlayStation 4, whose sales have traditionally outstripped the One's—then that could give Microsoft’s console some additional cachet, and its players some additional cash.

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